Husband and wife team Chefs Rhea and Jayjay Sycip come back stronger to welcome guests at this lovely farmhouse in Cavite, serving unique dishes using the best of local produce from the high fields in Benguet to the sustainable farmhouses in Davao.
First things first, you won't be able to find The Fatted Calf PH on the main road. Rather, guests are greeted by narrow off-roads and a few pineapple fields before you reach this quaint farmhouse.
Inside you can easily spot a fireplace, the busy open kitchen, socially distanced tables, and a cold shelf filled with beautiful naked cakes and donuts. The high ceilings and customized sunroof at the center of the structure bring light to the entire house during the day. At the back of the house and by the garden you can find tables that are fit for couples who may want to enjoy the cool fresh breeze outside.
The history of The Fatted Calf is a very interesting one and is evident from what you see and experience at the restaurant. From the cute and nostalgic left-handed school chair that reminds Chef Rhea and Chef Jayjay's fun memories as classmates in Grade 3; to the iconic Beef Pares Bowl that reminds Chef Jayjay of his food trips at Pares Retiro in Quezon City; to a small tin can of lavender EVOO bottle, a gift given to Chef Rhea by her former colleague, which inspired her to bake (and miraculously dispatch) hundreds of her viral Mediterranean-inspired Summer Orange Cake in just one weekend.
Even the house itself seems like it was built for a special purpose. While dating in 2007, Rhea and Jayjay got lost on a random road trip in the south and came across this empty house & lot for sale/lease. Jayjay, as dismayed as he was to be lost, was pacified by Rhea as she joked that one day, they might be able to live there. Both didn't realize that these were actually signs early on, and in 2019, on their 10th year of marriage, they finally secured the same house & lot and started to build their dream restaurant.
While continuing their respective powerhouse careers in the F&B industry (Chef Jayjay took training at Le Cordon Bleu in Thailand and took the role of Executive Chef in Discovery Country Suites, with stints working at Vask with Chef Chele Gonzales; Chef Rhea spearheads pastry and worked as an Associate F&B Director at Discovery Primea, and F&B Director at Holiday Inn Makati, respectively), many thought that their passion project would take off easily, but it took a huge leap of faith for them to slowly build the humble 35-seat restaurant. "We would save up our salaries in a month to buy a chair, and save more the next month so we can buy a table", adds Chef Rhea.
Of course, there are far more challenges of opening a restaurant than acquiring chairs and tables, not to mention, equipment and inventory. But 2020 was a very difficult year. With a roaring Taal Volcano and a raging pandemic that shook everyone across the globe, things became more difficult for the couple. And yet all these obstacles didn't stop them from continuing to support and assist the more stricken victims within their industry such as their staff, as well as farmers and suppliers who needed to support their families. With their families and close friends within the F&B industry, they continue to receive help along the way for them to be able to slowly bounce back on their feet.
Fast forward to 2021, we look ahead with more eased-up outdoor activity regulations and COVID-19 vaccination rollouts, making visits at The Fatted Calf are so eventful that you won't even notice you've been hanging out all afternoon.
The property is a haven for herbs such as Thai Basil, Tarragon and avocados. Just nearby, pineapples fresh-picked for them to use on seasonal salads. Mahogany Market is a known gem for famous Batangas grass-fed beef, so produce is wildly available for both chefs,
enabling them to whip out an array of fine-dining level dishes to be enjoyed in a casual open-air setting.
Waffles (either served with Banana and Pili nuts and salted caramel or with a seasonal medley of berries and syrup) will surely entice you to wake up extra early for a road trip. Baked free-range eggs topped with either mushroom, kale, bacon, and brined Kesong Puti are served en cocotte style with toasted bread. Beautiful open-faced sandwiches like tartines complete this celebration of classic French techniques with the use of local ingredients, featuring good cheese products such as Malagos Cheese from Davao and Burrata from Casa del Formaggio in Negros.
Order the Burrata Tartine and wow your eyes and tastebuds with how they transformed Patani or local lima beans into smooth hummus, served with seasonal veggies, and topped with a Burratini that's waiting to explode on top of a big slice of rustic bread.
Aside from the ample supply of free-range eggs that they use for most of their baked goods under Chef Rhea's famous Flour Pot Manila brand, their steady supply of Tagaytay greens also stands out when you order their signature salads.
A seasonal sweet glowing salad with pineapples, berries, candied orange peel, walnuts, and pili nuts was so good with a surprise kick of delicate spice thanks to the addition of fresh flat-leaf parsley.
If you prefer rice, these all-day rice bowls are good enough sustenance after a long drive going to Silang and back to Manila. The Bangkok Breakfast Bowl is also mildly spicy with ground pork and housemade curry paste, kefir, and lemongrass. The Beef Pares Bowl is a must-try with heaps of smooth and creamy scrambled eggs, housemade pickles, and chili oil. A bowl of piping hot soup using Batangas beef bones is just essential to make this a complete and satisfying dish. You can also try a classic Chicken Adobo Rice Bowl that's made from free-range chicken quarters braised in a classic soy sauce and vinegar with crispy garlic and boiled eggs on the side.
Chef Jayjay pays homage to the classic Pork Belly Bao by making housemade mantou, coleslaw and sauce. We tried this with their housemade chili oil as well and did not disappoint.
Their burgers stand out with their version of Sriracha Chicken Burger, Thai Beef Burger, and a classic Cheeseburger which involves a tedious process of grinding the meat by hand which results to having better texture and a more robust bite.
Local bulalo or grass-fed shanks are cooked low and slow in tomatoes, wine, and herbs, making their Osso Buco an instant favorite. Served with gremolata and potato puree, guests can order a bottle or two of wine to enjoy along with this flavorful dish.
The main attraction is a 10-hour beef shank that's torched at the last minute to give an extra layer of flavor. Baked under a bed of root vegetables and aromatics, enjoy this with some demi-glace (or Rum Jus, but should be ordered in advance due to limited availability)
If you're lucky on your visit, the rain may pour down and the temperature drops a few degrees, making The Fatted Calf the ultimate place to chill with a few glasses of wine and G&Ts.
No visit is complete without trying Chef Rhea's signature naked cakes and pastries from Flour Pot Manila, which include her boozy Signature Rum Cake that's best served with seasonal fruits, and the trendy Glazed Donuts with fresh strawberries and housemade strawberry jam which made Flour Pot Manila an instant household name for being one of the first to recreate the worldwide trend locally.
Strawberries are lush and sweet, sourced from Benguet, and also used to make her other creations such as her Tres Leches Cake and Strawberry Shortcake.
Cakes for the day are available by the slice, but whole cakes are also available, although we suggest ordering them in advance. Her cakes and donuts became more popular during the pandemic, with many customers traveling from different parts of Manila all the way to Silang just to personally pick up their pre-ordered goodies.
Finally, no charming restaurant is complete without the friendly dogs roaming around the premises. We were able to meet the more popular ones - Donut, Filet Mignon, and Chili, who in most cases, are most likely to steal away the spotlight from the chefs and staff. This also means that furry friends are definitely allowed, so that is a huge win especially for dog lovers out there!
Whether you want to impress a date, celebrate a milestone, bond with the family, support local cuisine, want to take a breather, or just to say hi to the chefs and staff, The Fatted Calf truly deserves a spot on your next road trip to the south Tagaytay area.
We don't think we will ever run out of reasons to go back.
The Fatted Calf PH - video highlights
exclusive audio c/o A-Well / Morobeats
Menu as of June 2021
Fridays - 10:00AM-9:00PM,
Saturdays to Mondays - 8:00AM-8:00PM
We suggest reserving a table before you visit them, but walk-ins are also available.
0917 789 2352
Safe Dining Protocols:
-Observes use of facial mask and shield
-Observes social distancing
-Tables are disinfected
-No Acrylic separators installed
Php500 to 1000 per person
Super helpful and friendly
Open for private gatherings/functions?
Yes, just contact them but make sure you don’t exceed the allowed maximum capacity.